Thoughtful House, under the guidance of executive director Andrew Wakefield, MD, was founded by Troy and Charlie Ball as a tribute to their son, Marshall. The Balls donated land in Austin for the center. Marshall, who has published two books of poetry and won many awards despite severe physical challenges, named the original Thoughtful House, built as a special place for reflection in his backyard.
In September, 2001, Andrew Wakefield, along with other colleagues and friends, initiated planning for the treatment center, devising a model combining medical care, behavioral analysis and education, as well as clinical and laboratory research.
Working with the founding Board of Directors, Thoughtful House became a reality in 2005, with the commencement of medical, educational, and recreational services for children with developmental disorders.
Wakefield is a UK surgeon. Wakefield has become a controversial figure because of his claims to have found evidence that the MMR vaccine causes regressive autism, and because of his calls for the British government to "suspend" the vaccine. In 1998 a paper published in The Lancet reported 12 children who had autism and bowel disease with onset after MMR. The authors produced no evidence that the vaccine was responsible but this study was widely reported in the press, causing parents concern and confusion. At a press conference Dr Wakefield suggested giving children the vaccines in three separate doses would be safer. This suggestion was not supported by his 12 co-authors nor by any scientific evidence. Nevertheless, takeup of the MMR vaccine dropped sharply to as low as 80%. Health officials say 95% of children should receive MMR so that vaccination programmes are effective.
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